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After a summer full of hour-long sets at European festivals, the Arcade Fire's Richard Reed Parry was tired when he answered the phone. Nonetheless, he offered insight into the band's performances, which are magical events to be savored like lost teenage summer nights. He also discussed the tone and content of the group's latest album and what it's like to play Clash songs while you're actually in the audience at a London church.
Westword:Are you excited, after playing a summer of truncated festival sets and having really learned to play the songs offNeon Bible, to come back for a tour of your own?
Richard Reed Parry: At this very moment, I got back yesterday from tour, so I don't feel excited about playing those songs at all [laughs], but I will when it comes time to do it. But in a global picture, yes.
Despite the tragedy that informedFuneral,Neon Bible feels like a darker record. Would you agree?
I think it's a little more confrontational in an ideological way — in the presentation of certain ideas — in a way that Funeral wasn't.
The song "(Antichrist Television Blues)" comes to mind.
Yeah — case in point. That's a song that has a very specific point to prove, and points a finger pretty directly at a specific individual [Jessica and Ashlee Simpson's father, Joe Simpson]. It's a kind of glove across the face. You use one dude who pimps out his daughters to make money as a focal point for pointing to society at large and pointing out that people are really sleazy to other people for personal gain.
Well, once upon a time, we played our first show in Paris. At the end of the show, we went out into the street singing and playing and went into this alleyway, and some people came out and followed us. Vincent Moon had been out front with his girlfriend before the show, looking for tickets. And I didn't know them or anything, but they seemed like really nice people, and I wanted them to see the show. So I snuck them in; they were some of the people who followed us afterward. And I think that's how it started. He was like, "This is a great idea. Let's have bands do interesting and weird little concerts that only happen once." And we didn't get to do an official one until the one in the elevator in Paris.
Are performances like that as magical for you as they are for me when I watch them in my cubicle?
When it's good, it's good. One of the nights, we played at a church in London; we went out into the crowd and played a Clash song — "The Guns of Brixton" — that we had learned just before the show. And it felt really exciting to be out in the crowd in the neighborhood where this song was written.
Does that feed more work like that?
We're just in such a bizarre position that people are paying so much attention to this band, and that can make things really exciting. But also, if we play "Wake Up" in the crowd one night and it's all over the Internet the next day, people are waiting for it, and that's not the point. The point is to do something that is spontaneous and takes us by surprise, too. But, whatever [laughs]. We're lucky enough to have this many people paying attention to what we do.
Visit http://blogs.westword.com/backbeat/ for more of our interview with Arcade Fire multi-instrumentalist Richard Reed Parry.